David Oistrakh: Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 (1956)

Oist Shost 1 1956

David Oistrakh: Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 (1956)
Recorded January 2, 1956, Carnegie Hall, New York City
(with Cello Concerto No. 1)
CD Sony Classical
Masterworks Heritage “Mono Era” Catalog No. 63327 (1998)
(No high-resolution download available, apparently.)

David Oistrakh, violin; the New York Philharmonic, Dimitri Mitropoulos, conductor.
Mstislav Rostropovich, cello; the Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy, conductor.

Dmitri Shostakovich is something of a polarizing figure. The greatness of his music is not universally acknowledged. The nay-sayers suggest that the difficult circumstances of his life under Stalin (who fancied himself a music critic, and who published concert reviews under a pseudonym) cause people to disregard the disjointed weirdness of much of Shostakovich’s output.

Liner-note writer David Fanning, writing about the late string quartets, characterized one of Dmitri Shostakovich’s characteristic modes of expression as “anxious circling and a kind of crippled polka . . . .” But that is only one of Shostakovich’s modes of expression. There also can be found a kind of selfless monumentality; a humane nobility; and a reverence for the history of musical expression from Orthodox Chant to Mozart.

Those other, non-weird, features of Shostakovich’s art I think were best expressed in his First Violin Concerto and in its première commercial recording in New York in 1956 by David Oistrakh, who was touring America during a brief warming in the Cold War.

Autodidact culture-vulture Marilyn Monroe was in the audience for Oistrakh’s Carnegie Hall recital début in late 1955. Shortly thereafter, Oistrakh played the US première of Shostakovich’s violin concerto with the New York Philharmonic, and within days, they recorded it. I think that recording, in very acceptable monophonic sound, is one of the most important recordings of the 20th century.

More, the sound bytes, and a YouTube after the jump. Continue Reading →

David Leisner & Zuill Bailey: Arpeggione

Leisner Arpeggione

David Leisner & Zuill Bailey: Arpeggione
Music for classical guitar and cello
CD Azica ACD-71306
24/96 Download from Pro Studio Masters

This CD is not just for classical listeners—anyone who loves beauty and wants more of it in his or her life should buy this recording. This cleverly-constructed disc is arranged like an old-fashioned recital program.

Serious music at the start (if you want to call Schubert’s contagiously lighthearted Arpeggione sonata “serious,”); followed by a guitar/cello treatment of Falla’s Spanish Popular Songs; then a wee homeopathic dose of accessible new music; and then all four shoes drop in a succession of surefire crowd-pleasers: “Dance of the Blessed Spirits,” “The Swan,” Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 (“Aria”), and finally Paganini’s Moses variations.

The recorded sound is absolutely stunning, completely worthy of the best systems at the next audio expo. Hint, hint. (Recorded by Bruce Egre at Cleveland State University’s Waetjen Auditorium.)

Words about the performers, followed by some generous sound bites, await you after the jump. Clickez-vous, s-v-p!

Continue Reading →

Delmoni & Martorella: Chopin/Milstein

Arturo Delmoni, accompanied by Steve Martorella, in the Auditorium of the Third Meeting House (1774-1775) of the First Baptist Church in America, playing Nathan Milstein‘s (one of Delmoni’s teachers) transcription of Chopin‘s C-sharp minor Nocturne. (The violin is muted.)

Rehearsal for Arturo Delmoni’s recital May 23, 2010. Steinway piano; violin J.B. Guadagnini (1780). The intro and outro chat audio are from the Canon camcorder, but the music is synched up from the 24/96 audio recording made with Pearl Microfon (Sweden) CC 22 cardioid condenser microphones (ORTF array) and a Sound Devices 702 CF recorder. Audio, video, and editing by John Marks.

There is a weed whacker at some distance outside, and it can be faintly heard. So be it. A special moment in time, frozen to a CF card.

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